Magazine app sales are slumping on the iPad, and there has been a lot of good analysis of how much and why — after the initial good news — there’s been a pretty steep decline. In a post today on his blog, designer Joe Zeff lists three reasons he thinks it’s happened:
- Publishers are competing against themselves by not differentiating their print and iPad versions.
- Consumer habits are still evolving.
- Digital magazines need a subscription model. (This point probably has the most consensus.)
Zeff suggests that the second and third points will work themselves out. But the first point means publishers need to reinvent, not just redesign, publications for the tablet interface. One example he cites is O Magazine’s iPad app, SketchBook O, which enables readers to participate in creative activities from the magazine and submit them directly to the publisher from the iPad.
I think he’s right on the money in talking about reinvention. The difficulty is making it happen — finding the resources to devote to it, changing our way of thinking, and avoiding potential pitfalls of just being weird instead of inventive. But if we want to keep current audiences and develop new ones, we shouldn’t wait.